5 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Personal Training Sessions

by HAC Member, Joan Burn; originally published in July 2016

When you decide to hire a personal trainer, you are making a significant investment in yourself and your health, so you want to get the most bang for your buck. Many years ago, I worked out with HAC Personal Trainer, Dina Saitis for almost nine months with few results. And I quit. Fast forward a few years – I asked Dina to take me on again, and now, a couple years later, Dina is still working with me and I am thrilled with the results. So what made the difference between those two times?

Gateway Garden Center

A lot of the difference had to do with my approach. The first time I hired Dina, my results were lackluster. Though I got stronger, I didn’t really shed any weight. I wasn’t making the time to work out on my own, and about the only thing I did do consistently was eat junk. All of that showed in my results. Dina is the best, but an hour a week with her couldn’t compensate for the damage I was doing the rest of the week. I’ve learned that if I do the work – in the kitchen and the gym – during the rest of the week, I get far more out of my sessions and I see better results.

Based on what I have learned as a client, here are my top 5 tips to help you make the most of your personal training sessions:

1). Find the right trainer for you.

Finding the right trainer for you can make a huge difference – but how do you do that? Start with your two free training sessions, included in your Fitness Health Appraisal (FHA). When you join HAC, you are entitled to two free health assessments by a personal trainer. If you haven’t already used them, those health assessments can be a way to see what working with a trainer is like.

You can also talk to other members and ask them about their trainers. Small group classes are taught by personal trainers and give you a chance to see them in action. I found Dina by trying one of the small group fitness class she teaches.

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Trainer Clayton Emory and his client have been working together for two years.

You can also speak with someone at the training desk and they can help match you with a trainer based on what you are looking for. You should consider the trainers’ qualifications and training and how well they match your needs and goals. Perhaps you want someone who has experience helping rehabilitate people with injuries, or maybe you want someone who has trained competitive bodybuilders. If your schedule is limited, then you’ll also want to consider the trainers’ availability and what time they are able to train clients. Once you have narrowed your search to one or two trainers, you should meet them and get a sense of how their personality meshes with your own. You might have to try out a few trainers to get the right fit. Trainers understand that, and they won’t be offended if you decide to train with someone else.

2). Be clear about your goals.

If you are not clear about what you want to accomplish, you are asking your trainer to help you hit a moving target. Do you want to tone up? Work on your balance? Lose weight? Increase your endurance? All of the above? It is important that you and your trainer are on the same page about what you want to accomplish. Over time, as you make progress or life changes happen, your goals may shift. You should periodically re-assess your goals and discuss them with your trainer. As my goals have evolved during the last few years, Dina has adjusted my training to help me meet those goals.

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Your two free sessions during your FHA are a great time to establish goals and discuss what you’re looking to get out of personal training.

3). Show up.

Seems simple, but it’s not always easy. “Show up” as in keep your appointments. Trainers are often in demand, and a “no show” deprives someone else of the training slot. “Show up” as in come a few minutes early so you are warmed up and ready to go when it’s your appointment time. You paid for that time – you want to get the most out of every minute. “Show up” as in having your head in the game. Leave your mental “to do” lists at the door and for the time you are with your trainer – focus solely on the work at hand.

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Steve Prescott did his share of showing up with trainer Kristi Leigh Morgan, earning himself the first place title of last year’s Lifestyle Challenge.

4). Work hard.

Whether you have a trainer or not, the reality is that getting fit requires hard work and consistency. When you work with a trainer, you need to have realistic expectations. A personal trainer can guide you and help you focus your efforts to meet your goals, but they can’t do the work for you. If you work with a trainer 2 hours a week, that’s about 1% of your week. The decisions you make during the remaining 99% of the week – in terms of your nutrition and your workouts — are up to you.

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Joan Burn and trainer Dina Saitis

5). Communicate.

Open communication with your trainer is important. Ask lots of questions. Your trainer is an expert – take advantage of that knowledge. Ask your trainer what you should be doing for your workouts the rest of the week. If something is going on – maybe you haven’t been sleeping well, or something was particularly sore after a workout – let your trainer know, so they can make adjustments to the planned workout if needed. If there is something you’d like to try during your workout, or something hurts, don’t hesitate to speak up.

And when trainers ask you questions about your diet or your activities, just be honest. They are trying to help – not judge. If it’s been a week when I didn’t get many good workouts in on my own, it helps Dina to know that so she can adjust her plans for the session. And, if I have been renewing my acquaintance with Ben and Jerry, she always seems to know anyway, so there’s no point in trying to con her.

Hiring a personal trainer to help me on my fitness journey has been one of my better decisions. If you are considering working with a trainer, just do it! It’s one of the best investments you can make in yourself and your health. I hope these tips help you and your trainer build a strong working relationship that will help you meet and perhaps surpass your goals.

Interested in training? Whether you’re ready to go, have questions, or aren’t 100% sure what you may need, we’re here to help. Fill out this form, and we will be in touch to discuss your goals and match you with a trainer that can help you become a better version of you.


Hockessin Athletic Club opened its doors on June 10 2007. Located at 100 Fitness Way Hockessin DE 19707, it is on of the largest health clubs in DE! 100 Fitness Way, Hockessin, DE · HAChealthclub.com

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